The Wheel of Torment

St. Catherine and the Catherine Wheel aka Breaking Wheel.

St. Catherine and the Catherine Wheel aka Breaking Wheel. From Wikipedia.org.

 

The therapist looked through the notepad and file on his newest patient. He hadn’t looked her over, yet as he was still thumbing through the contents of the rather large file. Her name was Jessica Flynn, or as she was known to the public as “The Girl That Was Saved by God.”

The therapists bushy dark brown eyebrows raised and fell. Sweat built upon his brow as he flipped through more pages. The small black wire rimmed glasses occasionally fogged up. He couldn’t believe it himself.

Poor thing, he thought.

As he readjusted in his dark green leather chair, crossing the right leg over the left, and fixed his black slacks to hide the dull grey socks that burrowed into the brown loafers.

He let out a hacking cough. “Ahem, ah, excuse me, miss Flynn.”

She did not reply.

A bead of sweat fell onto his glasses from his brow, and trickled down to his cheek. He removed them and wiped them against his black and grey sweater. He cleared his throat, as he set to replace the glasses. His brown eyes attempted at focusing on the blurred image of Ms. Flynn, then back down to the papers in front of him.

“Now, Ms. Flynn, can you start by telling me what troubles you, and why you are here?”

A soft voice replied, “I am troubled because I am alive, and I am here because I survived.”

The therapist stroked his chin. “I see. And how is it that you see yourself as being troubled by your liveliness?”

“When you have seen what I have seen and been what I have been through, there’s just some things that you cannot let go of—no, some things that cannot let go of you.”

The therapist nodded. “Please, in your own words, tell me of what troubles you. . .and what you experienced.”

After a long pause. Jessica looked down at the floor with the same blue eyes that looked down so many years ago.

“Ten years ago, I survived one of the most brutal, horrific, and terrifying events in my life. I still have haunting nightmares of it—disturbing visions, things you could not possibly comprehend.”

She stared blankly up at the wild brown haired therapist that sat before her.

“Go on,” said the man.

“In the backyard of hundred acre wood farm. A red brick ranch with a cellar where. . .they kept us in. There were other people too, kids, parents. . .I forget how many exactly. We were all locked up. There lived a family. . .a family of religious zealots. . .fanatics—they had brainwashed their oldest daughter. Their only son tried to rebel and make them see to reason. . .but he was struck down for disobeying his father.”

Her eyes fell to the floor again. She recanted the sight of blood—so, so much blood. “They called it. . .’The Wheel of Torment.’”

She paused after the words. She remembered it all. Before her did the structure start to assemble itself, and before her did the room begin to change into that day so many years ago.

The man began to sweat more profusely and said nothing.

She took a deep breath and began to tell of the event.

****

“We have to figure a way out!” A man whispered to another in the dark.

“Shh! Quiet! You’ll get us killed and then there won’t be a way out!” he replied harshly.

“We’re going to die anyway! Wouldn’t you rather die fighting than just rolling over and dying to these—these lunatics?!”

The man tried persuading the other, and other people to come together and overpower their captors.

Up above, heavy footsteps could be heard that came closer to the door that led down to them.

“Be thankful they haven’t chained us up yet.” A man whispered.

The footsteps stopped at the door. The door opened wide to let in the bright light that they all yearned for.

A tall man’s silhouette asked aloud down to the dark. “Y’all not tryin’ to plan an escape now, are ya?”

“N—no, sir. We’re being good, real good.” A few people replied.

“That’s good, real good of you, children.” The old man grinned up on the stairs. “I have some good news for y’all. Y’all gonna be goin’ home today.”

Commotion erupted from within the cellar, praises, thanks, and other useless banter.

The man stomped the floor with the butt end of his hunting rifle. “Now, now! Shut yer traps! Don’t need all this whoopin’ and hollerin’.”

“Please, Jebediah, let us go home, please.” A woman pleaded.

“Momma, I’m hungry.” A child whispered.

“Now, don’tcha worry a thing. For you see, I’ve heard from the good Lord above, and he said it’s time. . .time to send his flock on home. I be seein’ to that soon.” Jebediah slowly closed the door and locked it.

While some praised and believed they were going to be free, others questioned the motives of the man.

“What the hell does he mean by that?” A man whispered.

“They’re going to kill us—they’re going to kill us all!” A man began to sob hysterically.

“Shh, shut up! You’re going to get us killed with that nonsense right there!”

Outside, in the backyard near the big red pole barn there stood the prize of the Everby’s. It began to whirl and come to life.

Jebediah smiled at his creation of salvation. He wiped the sweat upon his brow with his dingy white handkerchief. He looked up at the sun through his reddened fingers. He took out his pocket watch and looked at the time. The hands neared noon. He caught a glimpse of his blue eyes, worn, and sun burnt face. Sparse white flecks popped up through the black tufts of hair. He looked down at the ground, then closed the watch.

The time had finally come.

He looked over at his wife. “You know, you are the light of my day, and the world to me, don’tcha?”

“I sure do.” The older woman smiled softly and gave Jeb a kiss and hugging him tightly.

She was short, pale, with brown eyes like the earth. Greying blonde hair that was let down, ran past her waist. With a grey and white dress, and black buckled shoes with white stockings.

“Dhalia, be a dear and get Annie out here, will ya?”

“Sure thing, sweetheart,” she replied giving him a pat on his belly.

Moments later, Annie, their daughter came out from the house. “You called, Pa?”

Jebediah looked his daughter over and smiled bright, and wide. “You sure are the sweetest thing, darlin’.”

Annie had just turned eighteen some days back. She had bright blonde hair that was tightly done in bun. Her bright green eyes shine brilliantly in the sunny day, comparable to her pale complexion. She wore a light blue dress with white frills, and black belt buckled shoes, with white stockings.

“Aw, thank you, pa,” she blushed. “Did y’all need me for something?”

“Well, Annie my dear. The day is today that we meet our maker. The day we go home. I want you to get everyone ready and up here. Your Ma will help ya, in case any of them get ideas. Now, don’t be keepin’ the good Lord awaitin’.”

“Yes, Pa, right away.” she nodded and ventured inside with her mother.

 ****

“So, it’s agreed then. We jump them, and make a stand. Right?” A man whispered to others.

“What about the children?” A woman asked.

“If we can get rid of them, the kids will be fine.” The alleged leader replied.

“I don’t think they’d actually hurt the kids. Would they,” another woman questioned.

“For crying out loud, they killed their own son! What makes you think they won’t do the same to your boy?” he turned his head to the dark silhouettes that stood around him, “or your girls? Your family. They’re going to kill us all unless we do something.”

“Mommy, I’m scared.” a little girl sobbed, clinging to her mother.

“There, there, don’t worry. You’ll be OK, J-bug. Ya hear? You have to be strong.” Her mother replied.

They heard the mechanical whirring that was so profound. It immediately struck fear into the heart of the captives.

“What the hell is that?!”

Then, the doors that led outside began to unlock and shuffle. Daylight pierced the darkness of the cellar. Before them all stood Annie and Dhalia.

The people all crowded together and clung to one another. Children cried among themselves, while the few families that were still together huddled close together.

Eyes darted all over the place—the Everby’s and the captives. In a corner, a young boy began to whisper a prayer to himself while rocking.

“Alright, folks, ya’ll free to go. . . Come out one at a time though, ya hear?” Dahlia said.

No one dared move.

“What’s the matter? Ya’ll don’t want to go home? See your friends and family? Kids?” Dahlia looked about.

“Listen up and listen good, if ya’ll don’t come on out of there, I’ll just shoot ya dead where ya be. Now, get out here in the light, or else!” She hollered.

Slowly, some people began to stir and make their way up the steps to the outside world.

As a woman slowly climbed to the top of the steps with her son, she looked at Annie and at Dhalia. “Please, please let us go,” she sobbed.

“Sweetheart, I plan to, don’tcha worry your pretty little head,” Dahlia replied. “Now, I suggest you get to steppin’ if ya know what’s good for ya.” She waved a handgun at the mother and son.

Annie hosed the pair down with water and mumbled something incoherently aloud. The pair—startled—kept on their path that laid before them. Before them was a dirt path that led to a monstrous construct.

Here it stood. . . “The Wheel of Torment.” Namely, so for its slaughtering capabilities. A wooden construct, woven with wrought iron that was about ten feet or so tall. Several wheels that spun in different directions from one another, with about a six foot radius, with several rows of iron and wooden tips. They were already bloodied and severely dull (probably by the prior use on their cattle sometime prior). In the center was a loud motor that whirled and roared with extensive and precise components. Below it, was a drainage pit that was dug out that only the artisan knew where to. Years of tempering and pride decorated this killing machine, and it awaited new blood to feast on.

Nearby, Jebediah stood with his hands clasped together, mumbling aloud something incoherent.

The mother and son cried to one another, and pleaded with Annie and Dahlia. Their pleas however, only fell upon deaf ears.

“Get steppin’. Be a good momma and lead. Make an example for your boy!” Dahlia yelled.

More of the other captives rose up from the cellar and saw what sick and twisted idea the Everby’s considered “going home,” and “being sent free.”

A group of men looked at one another. Dahlia had turned her back on them all, while Annie continued to hose down the next lot.

“It’s now or never,” one man whispered to the other.

In a surge of adrenaline, the men rushed Dahlia and Annie. One motioned to take the woman hostage but their uprising was quickly dispersed.

“Momma, behind you,” Annie yelled.

Dahlia cried out for Jeb, while fending off her attackers. She fired off a few rounds that struck one man in the leg, and several shots in another’s chest.

During the commotion, the mother sent her son to flee to the woods.

Jeb quickly pulled out his revolver and shot the attacking men dead, square in the head, and lost sight of the boy.

“Now, look at what you made me do! Look at what you made me do!” Jeb walked over and clubbed the mother in the back of the head.

A few of the men that still were alive groaned in pain. “Take them.” Jebediah ordered.

“Any of you idjits move, you’ll be shot dead. Got it?”

The others nodded and sobbed at the failed attempt.

“We could still try. . .” A woman whispered to some of the others.

A woman shook her head, “I’ve already made my peace. I rather not have anyone’s blood on my hands, let alone mine on theirs. These bastards will rot in Hell.”

Jeb cursed to himself at the boy’s escape. Still, they were miles and miles from any water, and any civilization. He figured the boy wouldn’t survive long.

“Annie, are you OK, darlin’? Jeb asked.

“Yes, Pa, I’m fine,” she replied.

“Good girl. Go get the camera.” Jeb ordered.

Annie came back moments later with a videocamera and brought it to her father.

“Thank you, sweetie. You’ve been the best daughter any father could ever hope to have.” Jeb kissed his daughter’s forehead and gave her a tight hug.

Jeb called to his wife. “Dahlia, be a dear and get one of them youngins to c’mere and film, will ya?”

She took the camera and found a girl that was clinging to her mother’s raggedy clothes. She ushered the child over to a chair that was below a branch. On its end there hanged a noose. Dahlia fashioned the noose around the young girl’s neck. “Now, listen here, darlin’. You’re gonna stand over here and keep the camera goin’. You sit down, or try anything, your neck’s gonna snap like a twig, ya hear me?”

The girl nodded and sobbed.

“Now, stop that, Pa’s gonna say your prayers, ya hear? You’re gonna go to a good place.” Dahlia ‘assured’ the girl.

The girl looked over at her mother, who cried and only looked on.

Jeb drug the mother of the escaped boy’s body to the wheel of torment. A horrible sound of bones snapping and popping ensued. Everyone cried in unison, save for the Everby’s.

“Praise the Lord, for He is great!” Jeb yelled.

“We have to do something!” A woman whispered to the remaining adults.

“Now, do it now!” A woman raged.

“Jeb! Jeb!” The women tackled Dahlia to the ground and began savagely beating her, and wrestled the gun free.

Jeb aimed and fired at the woman that beat his wife into the ground, but she continued to wail on the hag. He continued to fire, emptying the remaining rounds in the woman. Finally, the bullet riddled woman collapsed atop Dahlia, while the other got the gun and fired wildly at the fast approaching Jebediah. Several shots missed, but finally one struck him in the midsection, but nothing fatal. Jeb unsheathed his hunting knife and ran it deep through the woman’s gut.

Some of the children wagered to run themselves, but that effort was stifled as Annie had grabbed Jeb’s hunting rifle and began picking off some of the runners, and gathered ammunition for Jeb.

“Y’all don’t even know what you’re doin’!? You keep makin’ efforts at livin’ and for what? To maybe live a few more days? Ain’t nobody comin’ to save ya. Ain’t nobody, but the good Lord above! Accept Him, and repent,” Jeb yelled.

Bodies were dragged back to the wheel. More and more were added to the bloody “succotash.” The young girl had stopped crying now. She had accepted her fate. She debated though, die from hanging, or to die to the wheel? She prayed to herself, as she looked through the lens and focused on the body of her mother that was now being tossed onto the wheel. A spike penetrated her skull and gut, while her limbs were broken several ways and she was left flopping about. Others began their walk towards the grinder. . .and were shoved to their fate.

“Dear Lord, I pray to you. I, Jebediah Raymond Everby, giveth unto you, my only daughter, Annie Carrol Everby. For she is your faithful and loyal servant.” Jeb led Annie to the wheel. “I love you, darlin’.”

“I love you too, Pa. . .Ma.” Annie replied, giving each of her parents a hug and kiss.

She took a few steps, and then stopped just before the wheel. After a moment, she leaped upon it. A pike penetrated through her skull, ripping her scalp apart, grinding her limbs to loose ‘appendages’. More meat for the grinder.

“Now, let ye sinners repent!” Jeb hollered aloud.

One by one, he, and Dahlia begin to toss children to the mechanical beast. Their small bodies are engulfed wholly. Tiny arms, legs, and bodies are impaled, ripped, and torn apart. Some are lucky to die, while others continue to spin on the spokes and suffer an agonizing death. Round and round they go, watching others come to blow.

The girl filming focused on another little girl: her arm snapped in several places, legs twisted and dangling, with an iron stud through her right cheek. The blood of others poured over her pale face and long dark blonde hair. She cried in pain, wanting to be shot, but Jeb and Dahlia did nothing. Shortly thereafter, the girl died.

The constant sound of bone snapping, and blood bursting. The clay earth became redder—a deep pool of crimson where the dead that aren’t still riding the wheel now laid. Intestines continuously wound up, being unwound from the stomachs of innocents—a wicked weaving of death. . .and murder.

“Praise the Lord! Praise Him for He is just!” Dahlia bellowed.

Blood sprayed against Jeb and Dahlia’s faces.

“My dear, it’s time.” Jeb sighed, catering to his wound.

The little girl continued to film, watching as Jeb and Dahlia tied a rope to one another. He embraced Dahlia, and hurled one end of the rope at the wheel of torment. Together, they were dragged along the ground, until they met the monstrosity they created.

Several moments passed, the girl continued to hold the camera. She started to sob and thought she was alone. A dark blonde hair girl atop one of the pikes of the wheel mumbles to her incoherently. She turns the camera around and gives a statement.

Small blue eyes filled with dried tears and reddened from crying. Her brown hair flows with the wind that gently runs through it. Her thin pale face bruised.

“My name is Laurie Endrid. I am nine years old. My parents were Nancy and Thomas Endrid. My brother was Thomas Patrick Endrid, Jr. He’s the one on the bottom. . .next to Jenny. I can stand no longer. May God have mercy on my soul, and forgive me for the choice I am about to make. Lord, I pray to you that Jebidiah and Dhalia Everby will pay for their crimes against all of us—for their ‘sacrifice’ to you.”

She continued to stare into the camera for a moment, taking deep breaths, hesitant. Finally, the camera dropped to the ground.

****

In the memory playback in her mind, much like the video, Jessica watched Laurie struggle, gasping for air—her feet kicking wildly. At last, they came to rest and her body swayed with the wind of the cool spring day. She remembers the wheel breaking and falling into the bloody pit, among all the bodies, and hearing the sounds of helicopters, and cars swarming the farm not too long after.

“The F.B.I. and other governmental agencies had been tracking the Everbys. They were too late though. Mostly everyone was dead—save for Laurie, but she can’t do much nowadays, nor does she like to talk. . .about things.” She paused, “and the boy who got away. They found him on the way there.”

She looked down at the ground, her left eye and cheek ached. “Sometimes, people make fun of me for my scars—” her voice trailed off. “Though I don’t have my real leg and arm anymore, I can still feel the pain. Often times, I wonder why I survived and not some of the others. I guess, perhaps, I just had to see it through.”

Sweat had built up on the man’s brow, while his heart raced, “I am so sorry, Jessica,” the therapist apologetically said.

He looked up at her from the file, wiping the sweat from his brow with his palm. He remembered the girl that shared the same dark cellar with him.

“I’m just glad that you made it out, Brian,” Jessica replied with a broken smile.

 

Hieronymus Bosch The Garden of Earthly Delights Hell. Photo by solidariat. solidariat has no affiliation with me, or A.B.Normal Publishing Media Group, nor do they support my work and/or practices.

Photo by solidariat. solidariat has no affiliation with me, or A.B.Normal Publishing Media Group, nor do they support my work and/or practices. Part of Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights – Hell”.

 

Robert J. S. T. McCartney
A.B.Normal Publishing and Media Group
Other Writing

 

 

 

 

For Buckethead – RJM

 

 

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